15 thoughts from Bruins-Kings

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15 thoughts from Bruins-Kings

LOS ANGELES, CA Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins and Los Angeles Kings locked into a scoreless game after the first 20 minutes of play at the Staples Center.

1) The Bruins have 11 shots on goal at the end of the first period and the Bs forwards have accounted for only four of them. Once again the forwards didnt have enough involvement for the Bruins and that needs to change.

2) The Kings are pounding the Bruins all over the ice. Heavy shots to the body and the Kings are finishing every single hit on the Bruins. It was good of Chris Kelly to defend himself in one instance and go after Trevor Lewis when he didnt like a borderline hit from behind, but theres not enough of that going on. Not enough of a physical presence.

3) Twice the Staples Center game officials had to stop when the clock either froze or they lost track of how much time was on the clock. Considering whats happened at this place its becoming something of a joke.

4) Tim Thomas once again playing very well with 15 saves in the first period along with Mike Richards smacking a wrister from the slot off the right post.

5) Twice Kyle Clifford has backed away from potential fights with Shawn Thornton. Interesting to see how that will play out over the next 40 minutes.

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass-rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.